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Wood chips layer in my vegetable garden - can I dig holes and plant through them?

 
Posts: 18
Location: Oswego, Illinois
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Hello everyone, I am new to the site and was hoping to get some help.

I am in the process of changing my yard from a conventional grass yard into a more productive food forest/vegetable garden. I have a 32x25ft area for a veggie garden that I tilled up and added some horse manure then covered it will maybe 2-3 inches of wood chips. Will the wood chips need to be removed in the spring or can I just dig holes and plant around them?  

Thank You
 
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Constantinos Avgeris wrote:Hello everyone, I am new to the site and was hoping to get some help.

I am in the process of changing my yard from a conventional grass yard into a more productive food forest/vegetable garden. I have a 32x25ft area for a veggie garden that I tilled up and added some horse manure then covered it will maybe 2-3 inches of wood chips. Will the wood chips need to be removed in the spring or can I just dig holes and plant around them?  

Thank You


Just open a hole in the chips and plant in the soil underneath them.  When the plants are tall enough,  push the chips back in around them.
 
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Me personally, would just rake the areas I intended to plant, being careful to not mix the woodchips into the planting holes, too much.  Ish.
 
Constantinos Avgeris
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Thank You for the advice. I wasnt sure if anything would grow if the chips robbed too much nitrogen.
 
Tom Digerness
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Nitrogen robbing isn't much of an issue if the chips are on the surface.  As the chips age and break down, less concern can be placed on the chips and soil mingling.  
 
Constantinos Avgeris
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Tom Digerness wrote:Nitrogen robbing isn't much of an issue if the chips are on the surface.  As the chips age and break down, less concern can be placed on the chips and soil mingling.  



Thank you for the reassurance. I was dreading having to take them out.

I covered the whole perimeter of the yard with mulch to plant some dwarf fruit trees and berry bushes. Do you think there will be any issue with that? I didnt add anything to the soil. Just mainly trying to kill off the grass.
 
steward
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You're doing great, no need to worry  Wood chips on the surface will be perfect for your trees and bushes since they encourage fungal life forms in the soil (which woody plants love).  The grass may try to grow through it depending on how thick you laid down the chips.
 
Constantinos Avgeris
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Mike Jay wrote:You're doing great, no need to worry  Wood chips on the surface will be perfect for your trees and bushes since they encourage fungal life forms in the soil (which woody plants love).  The grass may try to grow through it depending on how thick you laid down the chips.



I only put a few inches down and didnt put anything underneath to stop the grass from growing. If any comes through is there a natural way to kill it?
 
Mike Jay
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A lot of people  use cardboard or some sort of paper under the wood chips to help smother the grass.  But cardboard has ink and other stuff on it so some don't like to use that.  

I'm guessing the "few inches" will kill the majority but that enough will get through to repopulate the area with grass over the next two years or so.  The most natural way to kill is it to continue to smother it in some way or pull it.  

Just knocking it back with the wood chips and slowing it down may give your desirable plants a chance to get ahead.  You could always go through again in a year or two with a biodegradable layer (paper, cardboard) and then another few inches of wood chips.  Or just add more chips wherever grass gets through.  Or pull it if there isn't that much.  Or get chickens in there which will dig through the mulch constantly and eat some grass and tear through the rest in the hunt for bugs.
 
Constantinos Avgeris
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Mike Jay wrote:A lot of people  use cardboard or some sort of paper under the wood chips to help smother the grass.  But cardboard has ink and other stuff on it so some don't like to use that.  

I'm guessing the "few inches" will kill the majority but that enough will get through to repopulate the area with grass over the next two years or so.  The most natural way to kill is it to continue to smother it in some way or pull it.  

Just knocking it back with the wood chips and slowing it down may give your desirable plants a chance to get ahead.  You could always go through again in a year or two with a biodegradable layer (paper, cardboard) and then another few inches of wood chips.  Or just add more chips wherever grass gets through.  Or pull it if there isn't that much.  Or get chickens in there which will dig through the mulch constantly and eat some grass and tear through the rest in the hunt for bugs.



I will just add more wood chips. I got a whole load for free but didnt realize that there was 15 yards in a truck so I have plenty to use. Luckily I work at a place with a lot of land I can store it at so I have been bringing it here. Figured it will turn into compost if I dont use it.

If I post a picture of my backyard can anyone give me some advice on planting?
 
Mike Jay
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Constantinos Avgeris wrote: If I post a picture of my backyard can anyone give me some advice on planting?

You sure can!  It might be worth starting a new thread for that topic to get new people in on the conversation.
 
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Hey!  We are about to try a similar thing.  I got about 6 bales of spoiled hay for free and we spread it about 6" deep.  Try to google the "ruth stout" method of gardening to raise your confidence.  Our plan is to let it sit there all winter, and then kick a little hole in the hay and pop the plants/seeds in.  The internet says that will work - so...
 
pollinator
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I've heard that 6 inches is the magic number if you are trying to smother grass with soil/mulch. If your "few inches" is closer to 3 the grass will poke through. That last part is sadly from experience.
 
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We, too, are transforming a lawn into a growing landscape using wood chips on cardboard.

I understand that some folks want to avoid inks and whatever else, and so they don't use cardboard as a mulch. I get that. That's why I don't use those shiny boxes with multi-color inks and pretty pictures of the products that once were inside of them, but I do use nice big boring old brown cardboard boxes as mulch. They break down fast after smothering that gol-durn crabgrass, and then wood mulch hopefully helps smother the next year's seed bank.

Last summer, I planted round 1 of trees/shrubs in the "lawn" and then laid down cardboard, further mulching with 5"-6" of locally sourced wood chips. This year we'll expand that with round 2 trees/shrubs, and we'll plant lovely edibles/medicinals/show-offs in last year's round 1 project by just pushing back the wood mulch and digging in.

Regarding cardboard mulch: I believe in using what I have, when I can. Back in the city, the nice trash men and recyclers took away practically everything, including our flattened cardboard boxes. But now in the country, I am wealthy with cardboard from moving to the country and various "country living" shipments. Yesterday I received a shipment for seed-starting supplies - it came in a cardboard box within a cardboard box! Sure, I could drive all these boxes to a landfill and make them somebody else's problem (aka "kicking the can down the road"), or I can deal with the cardboard myself and let nature do its thing.

After all, my cats don't need too many cardboard forts. They start getting ideas...
 
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